Thousands of state and private
tenants behind in their rent will soon be under more
pressure, claim critics of a new system designed to cut the
time taken to resolve disputes.
Housing Minister Nick Smith today announced changes to
Ministry of Justice Tenancy Tribunal processes, reducing
landlords' wait for rent dispute resolutions from about 12
days to two.
A spokesman said that would help tenants and landlords locked
in rent disputes, did not favour one party over the other and
instead of having to wait for mediation, resolution could be
via a confirmation conversation.
But some fear Fast Track could mean the burgeoning numbers of
struggling tenants come under increased pressure, as rents
rise in all 30 Auckland suburbs surveyed by property managers
Crockers over the past four years.
Margaret O'Neill, a volunteer at the Tenants Protection
Association in Auckland, said Fast Track would not give
tenants enough time to dispute issues and many might not even
have time to receive notifications. They might have good
reasons for not paying the rent on time and the system would
discriminate against them, she said.
"Sometimes the mail goes astray and they don't even get a
[rent arrears] notice. Sometimes they don't have enough money
on their phones and don't respond to a text or they might
have a million and one other problems and other debts," she
Initially only certain landlords will have access to the
system - big real estate agencies with huge property
management divisions and Housing New Zealand. Those
organisations are responsible for the majority of rent
However, the service will eventually become available for
A spokesman for Dr Smith said Fast Track will be rolled out
from Saturday following a successful Ministry of Business,
Innovation and Employment trial.
The trial was tested on three high volume Auckland clients.
One landlord said that included Barfoot & Thompson.
"We sought to test that applicants and parties who had a
repayment agreement in place about their rent arrears could
formalise their agreement with an order within 48 hours and
without the need for mediation," the ministry said.
"Test results showed that 90 per cent of those Fast Track
applications had an order back to applicants within 48 hours.
The trial proved that quicker results could be gained for
parties in arrears cases and our mediators could be freed up
for dealing with more genuine dispute situations."
Landlords and property managers praised the system, saying it
was cheaper than the old one. Time was saved on scheduling,
paperwork, phone conversations and there was a minimum
involvement of other government agencies, the feedback said.
"In our opinion the Fast Track process would be a very
valuable addition of a government service and moving with the
times of customers needing more flexibility utilising all
avenues of technology," the ministry said.
Dr Smith said Fasttrack predicted widespread benefits for
"Once fully implemented, there will be widespread benefits
for tenants and landlords from a more efficient and effective
tenancy dispute resolution process."